It Is Crunch Time
We can now say that, we are in the business end of the 2014 Safaricom sevens series. If this was a marathon, the athletes would be engaging their finishing kicks, with the tape clearly in sight, there is no room for slip ups.
The action moves to the town of Nakuru for the Prinsloo sevens, the fourth leg of five. The story so far can be summarised in two words, KCB and Homeboyz. The two sides lead the series log going into Prinsloo with KCB on 63 points and Homeboyz on 58.
The battle for the overall trophy is basically down to these two, with Nakuru, Quins and Strathmore waiting to capitalise on any slip ups. Nakuru are on 42 points with the other two tied on 41 points.
Homeboyz are the top seeds in the great rift town and headline Pool A where they’ll battle it out against Kabras, Impala and Mombasa.
A tricky looking pool with Kabras and Impala set to battle the Djs for a spot in the cup competition. Kabras finally broke into the cup competition in Mombasa and will be looking for the same in Nakuru. The likes of Nick Barasa, Edwin Achayo and Perminus Macharia will be vital to their campaign.
Impala who lost to Kabras in Mombasa, and as a result failed to make it into the cup competition, will be out to avenge that loss on their way to the cup quarter finals. The return of Sammy Oliech and Sam Onsomu didn’t work the magic many expected in Mombasa but with a training week under their belt, things should click in Nakuru.
For newly promoted Mombasa, their main aim will be to remain in the first division, it looks like it will be a tough Day 1 for the side. But this being rugby, you can never write off anyone, expect a tough battle from Mombasa as they seek to make a statement here.
The Djs managed to beat KCB last weekend and will be looking to build on that momentum. They will be the ones walking around with the bull’s eye on their backs, it will be interesting to see how they navigate through Day 1.
The side has relied on the combination of Oscar Ayodi, Augustine Lughonzo, Mike Wanjala and Leonard Mugaisi, and are sure to continue in Nakuru.
Series leaders and defending Prinsloo champions KCB headline Pool B where they are joined by Nondies, Western Bulls and Masaku.
The Lions saw their impressive run of 37 unbeaten games come to an end in the coastal town of Mombasa. The side will definitely be looking to pick themselves up in Nakuru, they will however have to do that without the influential trio of Ken Moseti, Darwin Mukidza and Andrew Amonde, who will not feature at the weekend.
The side welcomes Allan Omuka, Benjamin Ojema and Stafford Abeka in their places. That loss in Mombasa kind of dimmed the limelight on them and they will be playing in Nakuru without as much pressure as they had in Mombasa.
Nondies met KCB in the first cup quarter final in Mombasa and narrowly lost 7-0, and indeed on another day with another referee that result could have gone any way. The white shirts get another chance to beat the bankers in Nakuru and will be looking to make it right this time.
The addition of Biko Adema in the side, gave the team that extra edge and if available in Nakuru he will be vital.
The Western Bulls failed to make the cup competition in Mombasa and will be looking to get back into the fold in Nakuru. The side has been inconsistent over the last three legs, reaching the Kabeberi Bowl Semi finals, following this up with a Plate final appearance in Dala before losing in the Bowl final in Mombasa.
Masaku’s main objective like that of Mombasa will be to remain in the first division at the close of action on Sunday. The side who won the Division two title in Mombasa will be out to raffle the big boy’s feathers, to build on their win over Mean Machine at the coast.
After a shaky start to the series, Mwamba RFC seem to have found the spring in their step, finishing third in Mombasa. The black shirts headline Pool C where they’ll play Quins, Catholic University and KCA.
Mwamba turned back the clock in Mombasa, reminding us all of the days they used to run the shorter version of the game. They will be looking to build on that performance and probably end their sevens drought at the green town of Nakuru.
The inclusion of Mike Agevi and Dennis Ombachi to the squad does their chances a whole lot of good, with the likes of Sikuta, Oriwo, Chris Asego and Kevin Atandi, they do surely look like title contenders.
A cup final, a plate semi final and a plate final. That has been Quins sevens season so far, the quartered shirts failing to match their strong start in Kabeberi. The side welcomes back Kevin Keegan, Brian Okwomi and Godfrey Okoth, who should add an extra dimension.
With the overall title still a possibility for the side, however slim, they will have no room for slip ups in the next two legs.
The season’s surprise package, Catholic University’s Monks will be looking to get back to their impressive displays after falling at the bowl semi finals in Mombasa. This pool sees them meet against Mwamba and Quins, sides that they are all too familiar with.
KCA managed to avoid relegation in Mombasa and will now look to better their performance at the coast, they will once again meet university rivals CUEA.
Hosts Nakuru RFC headline Pool D where they will square it out against Strathmore, Kisumu and Daystar University.
The hosts have been impressive this season, a plate semi final a third place finish followed by a fourth place finish sees the side in third place on 42 points. The side will be boosted by the return of Oscar Ouma who seems to be the missing piece in the Wanyore puzzle.
The side already has nifty players led by the peerless Leslie Ochieng, alongside Victor Shigholi, Geoffrey Ominde. The addition of Ouma should hand them extra grit going forward to add to what they already have in Edwins Makori and Philip Kwame.
Put these together and you have a formidable side, backed by the passionate Nakuru crowd, you can not write them off.
Strathmore have been lukewarm so far this season, a fourth place finish at the Kabeberi leg, the best they have done. Picking up the Plate title in the other two legs, the Leos will be looking to finally light up the crowds in Nakuru, a venue they have enjoyed playing in over the years.
In Mombasa they were unlucky not to have made it into the semi finals, with a full strength squad. They will be out to make things right and keep their hopes for the series title alive going into the last leg.
Kisumu are clearly on the recovery path, they have looked promising over the last three legs and will be out to keep their run going. They are joined in this pool by Daystar who picked the Shield title in Mombasa.
It promises to be a cracking weekend of sevens rugby, with sides jostling for better postings on the overall log. My favourites for the Prinsloo title are the obvious KCB, Homeboyz, the hosts Nakuru and Mwamba.
The battle for promotion to the top flight is bound to be as interesting as the action previewed above if not more. Machine will be in good company as they are joined by Blak Blad, and the Dala Division II champions Thika RFC. It will be interesting to see who will grab the ticket to the top flight.